Get ready for a major cost you may or may not have expected - windows.
It makes me laugh when I look back on the original list I had of things that would be the most expensive. Now granted, I had never really considered the cost of windows before, and I even thought that I might salvage some... and then I looked into it.
First of all, if you plan to drive your house down the road, you need to have tempered glass windows. That way, if something breaks en-route, you won't be trailing shards of glass behind you and endangering other drivers. This, and the fact that salvaged windows would be much harder to install, lead me to look at new windows. My dreams of wooden window frames were quickly dashed when I met with my local hardware store owner and got a quote of $6000 for 9 small windows. I just simply could not afford that. I wasn't working full time and after paying 9 grand for the trailer, I just didn't have much money left. So I went to Home Depot to see what I could do.
At this point the people in this store were starting to recognize me. I spoke to a very nice guy named Dave in the window department and he was immediately interested in helping me find something that would work for my project and my budget. Dave also quickly informed me that they were running a sale that day, BUT only for another 24 hours..... You gotta be kidding me Dave. So I went home that night with a packet from Anderson windows and pared down my plans (size, shape, frame colors) until I had 9 composite windows in mind that fit my budget.
Side note: While tiny houses on wheels tend to avoid most building code inspections, that doesn't mean you should make them unsafe. I purchased one window for my loft that was considered large enough to be an egress window. Just in case I needed to leave in a hurry (fire, etc) , I could easily jump from my loft. I see a lot of tiny houses with tiny windows upstairs and wonder what these poor people would do if for some unfortunate reason they were ever trapped.
Anyways, I went right back to Home Depot the next morning, found my new buddy Dave, and placed my order to the tune of $3000. Even after all of the resizing and budgeting AND a sale, that was still a lot of money. So just keep this in mind. Also, I chose almost all casement windows save for 2 awning windows in my lofts. Something worth noting about casement windows is that I can't leave them open in the rain! The frames stick out and the water splashes onto them and right into the windows. This makes my house very hot in the summer if we happen to be getting heavy rain on a warm day. Think this through when choosing your style of windows!
Meanwhile we were working on getting the exterior of the house ready for siding. This is where I did salvage a lot of material, but we'll get to the specifics on that in another article.
My best friend Tony came out on a gorgeous fall day to give us a hand wrapping the whole place up in Tyvek home wrap (thanks Tony!). There are a lot of resources out there on the best way to staple and tape this stuff, and how to seal your window frames.
Actually the only injury I got through the entire building process happened while putting the Tyvek around a window frame. It's sort of like wrapping a present, and I had folded one edge around the header on the window and then proceeded to pound a staple right into my thumb with one good whack of the staple hammer. I dropped the stapler, pulled out the staple, and thought to myself wow, it's not even bleeding.... Welp, it wasn't bleeding cause it was just that deep. After a second, a bubble of blood pooled out of the staple hole, and if you know me, you know that this is the point that I was prepared to lose consciousness. But, I manned up, tore a strip off of the rag that was in my pocket, and tied it around my thumb just as my dad returned from collecting some extra tools in the shop. He didn't seem to notice that I was sitting on my steps, completely void of all color in my face, trying to keep my composure (typical dad move). The fact that I did not pass out, or even show signs of distress, was my biggest accomplishment that day.
Having windows felt really cool. The house was feeling legit. I left all of the plastic film in place to protect the glass from future construction projects, but also so that I could have a sense of reveal when things became more finished.
By October 8th, (2 months after beginning), the frame was complete, the house was wrapped, and all of the windows were installed. The picture below shows the house all ready for siding as I stand with family friend Patti on her first visit to check out the progress with her wonderful husband Lou.
I remember cleaning up all of the tools I had inside, and sitting down on the floor on a quiet evening in the middle of all this to take a breath and soak it all in. I was sitting inside my house, watching the sun come in and feeling pretty proud of myself. I found that my mind was constantly racing. I was always thinking about what was next, how much more I had to do, what choices needed to be made and when. Throughout the rest of the build I would often take a minute to just sit by myself and reflect on the 'now', to remind myself that I was doing ok. That time ended up being really valuable for my peace of mind. I highly recommend it.
In my upcoming articles I'll talk about how I made the frame for my round window, and what inspired my exterior design.